COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker

Case Details

This database consolidates and tracks litigation concerning the effect of the pandemic on election law. The purpose of this tool is to provide an interactive list of relevant cases that can be searched by issue, court, status, and jurisdiction.

Case Details

 

In re State of Texas

Closed

In re State of Texas, No. 20-0394 (Tex. Sup. Ct.)

  Case Summary In Texas, voting by mail is only permitted if the voter qualifies under categories of (1) absence from county of residence, (2) disability, (3) over 65, (4) incarcerated, or (5) part of the address confidentiality program. Disability is defined as "sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health." There was separate litigation about whether COVID-19 is reason enough to request to vote by mail due to "disability." To obtain resolution prior to the July vote, the State filed for a writ of mandamus requesting that the court (a) determine that a voter's lack of immunity to COVID-19 and fear of contracting it at in-person voting do not constitute a "disability" that would permit the voter to request to vote by mail AND (b) compel early voting clerks for 5 counties to perform their statutory duty to review voters' applications to vote by mail and reject those that cite generalized fear of contracting COVID as a qualifying disability. As part of their request, the State asserted that voter fraud is tied to mail-in balloting and is a reason the court should support a narrow definition of "disability." The court did make a determination that fear of contracting and not having immunity to COVID-19 don't alone qualify as a disability, but didn't issue the writ.
Filed 05/13/2020
State Texas
Type of Court State
Status Closed ()
Last Updated 09/05/2020
Issue Tag(s) Vote-by-Mail (Other Vote-by-Mail Issue, Failure to Allow Fear of COVID to Qualify as “Excuse”, Claim that Mail Voting Leads to Fraud and/or Vote Dilution)
Lack of immunity to COVID-19 as a disability
Dispositive Ruling(s) 05/13/2020: Petition
05/27/2020: Order/Ruling, Mandamus Denied. In considering vote-by-mail requests due to disability, the court determined that (1) a lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not by itself constitute a "physical condition" inherent to disability, (2) it's the voter who determines whether in-person voting will cause a likelihood of injury (a part of the disability assessment), (3) it's the voter who determines to request vote-by-mail due to disability, (4) the county clerks only need to review the application to vote by mail and nothing beyond it; no need to assess a voter's assertion of disability and no need for the voter to provide details or proof, and (5) the court believes the clerks will follow the law in accordance with the court's guidance, so the writ of mandamus to compel isn't necessary.
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